Sundance Journal: ‘Chasing Coral’

'Chasing Coral'

Movie Rating:


This year’s Sundance Film Festival kicked off with Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’. I didn’t catch that one, but from what I’ve heard, the documentary follow-up is completely unnecessary and doesn’t do anything more than say, “See? Climate change is real.” On the other hand, the environmental documentary that I did see, ‘Chasing Coral’, is more likely to inspire you to make a change for the sake of the global environment.

From the team that brought ‘Chasing Ice’ (a documentary about fleeting glaciers) to Sundance comes a new nature-minded doc that explores the impact global warming is having on coral all over the world.

Several years ago, divers started noticing places where coral was turning white and dying. Studying this showed that the bleaching effect was caused by the living coral’s immune system kicking out microbial bacteria that not only gives coral its color, but feeds the self-sustaining organism. Without it, the coral’s flesh turns white and it starves to death.

By looking at the environment, scientists quickly identified that the reason for the reaction was the rising temperature of the ocean. Just as a human body can’t handle fevers that vary just a few degrees above normal, neither can the coral. Without the bacteria that feeds it, the coral quickly dies after bleaching, leaving reefs dreary and lifeless.

The filmmakers set out to document the bleaching of coral in order to build a case for finding ways to protect it. We see the technology that they needed to create in order to capture the bleaching events on camera. The footage is shocking. Playing out like an in-depth science class, you’ll be educated in more ways than one. Much like ‘The Cove’ or ‘Blackfish’, this is the next big documentary that will have people talking.

‘Chasing Coral’ won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and was picked up by Netflix. I urge you to check it out when it starts streaming.

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